Monday, January 02, 2012

A ''LEFT - HANDED'' Compliment

Paul C. Says -
(About Book)

---Everyday at 3:30 Paul H. stops by my office on his way to exercise in the therapy gym. We typically chat about the day's events or other commonalities. We've both recently been in the market for a computer and we've been sharing opinions about the different possibilities. On Tuesday of last week, Paul wheeled into my office and handed me a book. Actually I can't say he handed it to me because he doesn't have a hand on one side and is so tremulous with the other hand that he can't hold things without dropping them. I'd never asked Paul why he didn't have a hand and the subject never came up in conversation, but when he gave me the book it brought back memories of another friend of mine.

---Several years earlier, when I first started working at the hospital, I was carpooling with a group of other hospital employees. Being new to the city and the hospital, I was anxious to find friendships and the carpool seemed a good way to get to know some of the folks I worked with. As it happened, one of the members of the carpool was missing a hand in almost the same fashion as Paul. In my eagerness to get to know the group I nonchalantly asked Nancy what had happened to her hand. During the next 45 minutes she explained the whole story of getting her hand caught in a leaf cutter and all of the details of the ensuing physical and emotional trauma. By the end of the ride she was crying with the telling. She apologized for her emotion, telling us that she hadn't actually told the story in many years and was surprised herself by her reaction. This surprised me because the other carpool members had been riding with Nancy for over 5 years. I asked one of them later if anyone knew Nancy's story, but no one had thought to ask. That morning ride was a defining moment in the group and helped to solidify some relationships that I carry to this day.

---Paul gave me the book and excused himself from my office with only a brief comment that he hoped the book would be useful. Ironically, in the first chapter Paul tells the story of his hand. He said that most people assumed that he had lost his hand in an accident, but the truth was he was born without it. He tells of a painful childhood where he made great efforts to hide his hand by sticking it deep in his pocket, even among people that knew he didn't have the hand. He goes on to talk of how he gradually embraced his loss by forcing himself to keep the limb out in the open. While I was reading the story it occurred to me how I had been hiding some of my own missing parts and how there might just be value in bringing those into the open. In other words, the telling of Paul's story touched my life in a deeply personal way.

---In the carpool I had thought to ask the question of how Nancy had lost her hand and that ultimately led to a deeper relationship with her and the others in the group. Paul's story had a similarly compelling effect, but I could have gotten there sooner had I thought to ask. We talk about patient centered care from the perspective of trying to make a home like environment, or scheduling things according to our patient's needs, but we seldom take the time to ask and we don't expect to be changed ourselves. It's in the asking that not only gives us the appropriate perspective but can ultimately lead to
fundamental changes in who we are as individuals.

Paul C. MPT, GCS was Rehabilitation Coordinator, at the Hospital. Thanks, for the Appreciation. More On My Relationship With Paul C., On - At The Hospital...(click link above and scroll)

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